The Walking Dead

I saw the new AMC series, The Walking Dead, last night.

I’m going to start out this review by saying that I am a HUGE fan of the comic book by Robert Kirkman. It’s one of those books that grabs you from the beginning and never lets you go. Kirkman is absolutely indifferent to all of his characters to the point that he will kill off any one of them even if he knows you love them. This is a real world that he’s created, where the hero can die and what you view as a forgettable character can easily become the most important. I’ll just say that his world looks to translate beautifully to the screen.

This is not the zombie show you’re looking for…or maybe it is. If you are a huge fan of the zombie flicks that have been produced in this new zombie obsessed world (ie. Resident Evil, Dawn of the Dead, Zombieland), then you may be disappointed by The Walking Dead’s moody, dark, serious tone. The movies that have come out in the last ten years have tended to use people as backdrops and zombies as the main characters. You’re really just watching to see who dies next and who fills the stereotypes that you’re used to. This is not that show.

In The Walking Dead, we’re dealing with real, living, breathing characters who have emotions, quirks, and real issues that matter. This is a story of people who are dropped into an impossible situation with one goal: survive. This story isn’t about the “jump” scares. It’s really about watching good people fall apart in the face of this kind of disaster. Rick Grimes, the main character, is the first guy we meet. The show opens with him searching for gas at an abandoned gas station and running into a little girl that turns out to be a zombie (a word that is not used in the show, by the way.) From the first scene of this series you know that it is going to show every bit of what it takes to kill a zombie. What I mean by that is that it doesn’t pan away when a little zombie girl gets shot through the forehead. You get shown every gory bit.

Frank Darabont, of Shawshank Redemption and Green Mile fame, is directing and producing the series and I don’t think a better person could have been picked. You can tell from the first scene that he respects this series and it’s characters. He’s helped to create the perfect mood for an extended zombie story. It’s bleak, sad, and at sometime heart wrenching. Following Rick, played by Andrew Lincoln, as he tries to figure out what’s going on and where his family is is devastating. He basically breaks down when he arrives at home to find it deserted and his wife and son missing. Imagine waking up in a world where dead people are walking around and you can’t find anyone to ask a question. This is what he’s woken up in and it’s captured perfectly.

I cannot wait to see where this series goes. I can tell already that they are taking certain liberties with the comic book, but that’s all well and good. Kirkman has blessed this series and even has an executive producer credit on this masterpiece. The TV series has an advantage in knowing exactly where these characters should end up and can choose however it wants to show how they get there. This is a zombie story about characters, not the zombies. This is a story that wants you to care about the people you’re watching, and so far it’s done a fantastic job. I cannot wait for next Sunday night.

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